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What can you tell and what can you learn?
Tom Stehn, USFWS Whooping Crane Coordinator

  • The band on the right leg tells me this is "Al," the male of the pair known as Al and Diane. Years ago he was originally banded as Yellow-Red (high silver).
  • The red on the crane's head is red skin that can be expanded and engorged with blood when the crane wants to show off its crown and look fiercer. It is covered with black bristles, a modified feather that often covers much of the red. (This photo shows both the red skin and the black bristles.)
  • You can see a brief hint of the black primary wing feathers next to the upper part of the right leg.
  • The plumage overall is ruffled, but does not look ruffled by any wind that is present. This bird's plumage needs a good grooming. (Whooping cranes usually appear "neater" than this.)

    This is the Western flock's  "Al," the male of the pair known as Al and Diane.
    Image: Sue Kersey